17 Tips From a First-Time Homeowner That Will Change the Way You Buy a Home
Before buying your first home, there are plenty of people who will be feeding you advice — your parents, your friends, your real estate agent, your accountant, your psychologist — and although a lot of the advice may be repetitive, there are still so many important things that slip your mind. After one year of owning their first home, Reddit user tuttifrutty shared their advice and experience of home ownership. Not only does this list run through the basics, but it's also opening our eyes to many things we completely oversaw before buying a home. Below, we've shared the entire all-encompassing list of tips from a homeowner in Reddit user tuttifrutty's own words. Check it out, and make sure to keep this handy when buying a home!
- "Be clear about why you're buying a home. Every large decision you have to make about home ownership should somewhat tie in to this. I can't stress this enough. Make sure the reason makes sense to you after you and your SO (if applicable) sleep over it a few times. Don't get in to home ownership because your friends or colleagues are telling you how much they love owning their home. It might not be the same for you. Again, be clear. I'd say literally write it down."
- "If you're buying a home together with your SO (I'd imagine most might), sit separately with different pieces of paper and write down what each of you wants in your home. Be realistic. Indicate what you're OK with compromising on and what is absolutely a must have (or must not have). Don't talk to each other while doing this. Once you're satisfied with the list, tally what you have and combine what you want, don't want, what's a must have and what you can compromise on. Be realistic."
- "Use one of the online tools to calculate 'how much house can I afford'. Don't spend more than 30-40 percent of your annual income on home ownership — this includes your mortgage, insurance, property tax etc. I'd say stick to 30 percent or less. Edit: 30 percent of take home pay is what my max was. I ended up buying lower than that. Your scenario may be different. The COL in your area will probably affect this number."
- "Look at houses based on the lifestyle you have not the lifestyle you aspire to have. For example we looked at houses with smaller yards or yards without large lawns. Reason: Our lifestyle and gardening aren't compatible. We'd have loved a large green lawn but realistically we'd never maintain it and probably wouldn't spend on a gardener. That's just one example. Don't dream of building a home theater in the basement if you're the outgoing type."
- "'Buy the biggest house you can afford' is horrible horrible advice. This was given to me by most people around me. It sounded bad then and after a year in, it sounds just horrible. Buy the house that you need today with some consideration for tomorrow's needs. Tomorrow's needs is something along the lines of growing family NOT anticipating profits from business or promotions. The advice given on this sub holds true here too — buy below your means."
- "Avoid borrowing money from friends or family in order to afford a bigger home. This is kind of an off shoot of the point above. Both points will just lead to additional stress that you don't need. This is true even if they're willingly offering you money without you asking."
- "REALLY look in to total cost of home ownership. If you're looking in to a fixer upper things can get very tricky. I'd recommend not going for a fixer upper for a first time home owner. I bought a relatively new home but the cost of minor fixes baffled me. I'm very very happy to not have bought a home that needed repairs. I'd have underestimated the cost even if someone would have given me quotes for the repairs. Things like regulations change. A minor change might end up with large expenses to keep up with code. I learned this the hard way when I wanted to get an additional power outlet."
- "Drive around the neighborhoods that you're interested in. Get a feel of the place. Chat with people who're out for walks or something and see what they think. This might lead to interesting results. When I did this, people thought I was selling something so their immediate reaction to my 'Hi' was 'I'm good. thanks.'"
- "A home purchase is often a process of elimination. Start with all homes that match your criteria. Filter based on cost, then filter based on neighborhood, then filter based on square footage, school districts etc. Keep going until you're left with a few homes that you'll go look at."
- "Your agent facilitates the transaction. If you don't know what you want and haven't communicated with them very clearly, they may influence your decision. If you feel your agent is pressing you into making decisions — RUN. Better than having buyers remorse after having gotten in large debt."
- "Feel free to use your agent to do the ground work. I gave my agent a list of questions to go figure out for the houses/neighborhood/HOAs etc that I was interested in. You're paying your agent a good sum of money. Get your money's worth. Don't shy away from asking questions. (Your agent might tell you that you won't pay him. That's partly true. You won't pay them directly — the seller usually accounts for this and prices the home accordingly. So in a way, you are paying him.)"
- "It's in your best interest to not have the same agent as the seller."
- "Don't skimp out on the essentials — for example home inspection. It may be expensive to do but it's better than being stuck with a flawed house. Edit: consider getting a radon inspection (Quick google tells me there are DIY kits that are available)."
- "Protect your investment — get good insurance. Make sure you're aware of what's covered and what's not. Change the locks before you move in. Change the lock on the mailbox. Invest in a home security system if your neighborhood warrants it. Consider cameras at the very least."
- "Find out how the HOA is if it exists. I've heard horror stories from colleagues. A couple of them have sold their condos because of the stress it caused them."
- "Consider your mortgage options. Depending on how long you plan to live in your home, ARM might be a good option."
- "After you buy your home, don't feel compelled to set it up immediately. That means it's OK to use the current furniture you have. It's OK to not have a proper bed. (We're still using a box + mattress combo — no frame or headboard). It's OK if one or more of your rooms look spartan for a year or two."